Chapter 5:


The Scorned

I sat on the ground next to this woman-monster, my back leaning on the wall of the cave, and asked, "You are the strongest... 'being' that I have ever met. No one could have survived the pressure I put on your neck. I don't think anyone can resist your presence, man OR woman. So why do you hide in this cave?"

She responded with a disbelieving grunt, saying, "You really don't know anything, do you? Do you even know what I am?"

I shook my head no to answer her, and with a scoff, she spat out, "Where did you grow up? Under a rock?"

Under my breath, I mumbled, "Pretty much," causing her to give me a strange look. Letting out a long sigh, she started to tell me her tale.

"I am what you humans call a demon."

"I was a Sharza assassin, but I got banished from my world because I was too good at my job. Once I no longer had the protection of the demon lord, it allowed humans to attempt to bring me to this world. I was summoned into this world by an ancient Wizard. I was supposed to call him 'Master,' to be his slave. He always intended to summon a demon, but he knew nothing of what type of demon I am or how my powers work."

"To control me, he needed to know my real name. The old fool thought that I would just give it to him if he asked. In fact, he was so eager for me to be his, by the time he realized something was wrong, it was too late. He kept shouting out the fake name I'd given him, as if it would help him somehow while I slowly took his life from him."

"The old bastard had one trick up his sleeve, though. With his last breath, he placed a curse on me. I could only be freed from my contract of servitude in this realm if a new master took me in and released me of his own free will."

"I have been stuck in this cave ever since."

"At first, people sought me out to try and claim me as theirs, but as you have seen, that never happened. Then they just started trying to kill me."

"Honestly, it was fun in the beginning and helped stave off my boredom. But then it just got monotonous. I don't know that there's anything I wouldn't give to be free from this damn cave and be able to explore the world. Or even just go back to the underworld!"

"I've heard about a great many things in the outside world. I honestly get excited thinking about what I could do out there with my abilities and appearance, but, for now, here I sit in this cave."

I sat in a comprehending silence, taking in what I heard and weighing my options. I then stood up to extend my hand to her, helping the demon up off the ground. She accepted my help with suspicion.

I asked, "So... if I'm the first person not to be murdered by you, do you belong to me now?"

She shook her head no and responded, "Nope. Nothing is official until we complete the pact. Though, if you want to, I can't say no at this point."

I nodded my head and again considered my options. "Well then, let's begin the pact."

The demon got a genuine smile on her face and began to chant in a language that I didn't recognize. My mind barely identified them as words, and I could clearly make out more than one voice in the air. Spears of colored lights seem to stab up from the ground all around us. The demon then walked up to me and gave me a quick kiss on the mouth. Then she was suddenly a few feet away again, as though she had never moved and everything was back to as it had been moments ago.

She then knelt on the floor and gave a long and flowery speech: she was now mine to use as I saw fit. She would serve, protect and obey and all number of oaths and ritual quotes that I tuned out of my mind, waiting for her to finish. In between declarations of her servitude, she retrieved a piece of parchment from a nearby corpse and made an envelope. She placed a lock of hair inside the envelope, sealed it with a drop of blood from her thumb, and offered it to me, stating her name was Selene. When I took it, the blood-print shifted on the paper to become her signature. I raised my eyebrow at this, not believing for one second that Selene was her real name. But, honestly I didn't care.

I looked back at Selene and asked if she had anything she wanted to grab before leaving, but she merely shook her head 'no.' We then began to walk away from the cave, but only made it about a dozen paces before Selene paused at the edge of the tree line.

"This is the edge of where I have been cursed to stay. Every time that I have tried to pass this mark, I get a surge of excruciating pain."

I could see her trying to summon the courage to cross the invisible line, but she didn't move for a good minute or so. Seeing she needed help and being the gentleman that I am, I placed my hand on her back and gave her a rough shove that caused her to fall to the forest floor well beyond the previous boundary.

She quickly sprang to her feet in fear and turned to angrily protest, but froze when she realized that she was over the tree line and finally, truly free. With that realization, her face lit up, and she began to run around with her arms spread wide, like a child's first trip to the fair. I watched her run for some time, honestly enjoying her display. Then I started to walk away, with no destination in mind.

Soon, however, I heard her fall in step behind me. "So, where to first, 'Master'?" she inquired.

"There is no we," I explained to her without looking back. "You're free now, just like you wanted."

She paused for a moment, thinking I was joking and expecting me to admit the deception at any moment. I just kept walking. Suddenly, I heard a loud sound, and I felt a strong breeze. Selene was standing in front of me, with two giant wings seemingly made of white leather sticking out of her back. With a serious expression, she approached me until she was less than an inch away and began to yell, "You mean I went through all of that pact nonsense, and now you don't even care?!"

"You told me someone must become your master and willingly let you go, as the only way you might get free. I gave you exactly what you wanted, so why are you upset?" was my factual and dispassionate reply.

Selene paused for a long time, then stated quietly, "I mean, I have wanted freedom for a long time but, now that I have met you, why can't we travel together for a while? You know, explore together? You don't seem to share the same values as others, so think about what we could accomplish together."

I paused, trying to think of what I wanted beyond seeing Rebecca again.

On the one hand, I felt like she would only slow me down, but, on the other hand, I wouldn't just be looking for trouble anymore. It would follow along behind me at all times. Making up my mind, I slid past her to start the walk back towards the capital and yelled over my shoulder, "If you want to have fun, then you better be sure you can keep up."

I heard Selene's wings flap only once, and suddenly she appeared next to me. She turned to me and asked, "What is 'your' name, 'Master'?"

I paused for a second, then simply replied, "200."